Q&A with Harit Talwar, President, US Cards, Discover Financial Services

Harley Manning

We all felt extremely lucky to score Harit Talwar as a speaker for Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West, which is coming up on October 9th and 10th in Los Angeles. Why lucky? It’s for two main reasons.

First, Discover has been a consistently strong performer in our Customer Experience Index, in a virtual dead heat with American Express. Yet Discover’s customer experience story is not nearly as well known as the American Express story, so we’ve been dying to bring it to a Forrester stage.

Second, Harit blew me away in our first forum prep call. Not only does he really get the concept of a customer experience journey, but also he’s been living it. What’s more, he brings results in terms of metrics like customer loyalty scores, wallet share, and J.D. Power scores as proof that what Discover has been doing actually works.

In the run-up to the forum, Harit recently took the time to answer questions about what Discover is doing and why it's doing it. It’s my pleasure to be able to share his answers with you, and I hope to see you in Los Angeles where we’ll all get to meet Harit in person.

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why? 

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Q&A With Tom Feeney, President And CEO, Safelite AutoGlass

Harley Manning

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of seeing Tom Feeney speak about customer experience at an event in Boston. I was fascinated by his story of how Safelite went from a company that put shareholders first to one that put employees first. The reasoning behind this move: Highly engaged employees will deliver a great experience, which will improve business performance and ultimately make everyone happy (including shareholders).

As it turns out, that reasoning is correct. From 2006 to 2012, Safelite’s sales grew by high double digits, and its profits grew by triple digits. (I’ll let Tom reveal the actual numbers when he keynotes on the second day of Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals West in Los Angeles on October 9 and 10).

Despite these impressive results, Safelite is now moving into a new phase of its transformation journey. It’s that multipart voyage toward customer experience maturity that makes Tom’s story a perfect match for our event theme, “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.”

In the run-up to the event, we asked Tom to answer a few questions about what Safelite is doing and how it’s doing it. His answers appear below. I hope you enjoy them, and I also hope to see you in Los Angeles!

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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Creating Audi Fans

Harley Manning

To better compete in the US luxury automotive landscape, leadership at Audi of America had focused on improving three fundamental areas: the brand, the products, and the dealership. And they had made huge progress.

But according to Jeri Ward, director of customer experience at Audi of America, “The customer experience had not kept pace.”

Troubling data points made that clear: Customer loyalty was at 40%, and sales satisfaction was in 26th place out of 31 brands. But what really drove the problem home was this quote from an Audi customer: “The whole time the salesman spoke with me, he was eating Skittles out of a bag in front of me.”

Just imagine that you’re trying to buy a $60,000 to $90,000 car from someone who can’t be bothered to stop cramming junk food into his mouth. Would that work for you? I didn’t think so.

In this excerpt from Jeri’s speech at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East, she describes some of the tangible actions Audi took to solve this problem by creating a customer-centric culture that inspires passion for the Audi experience. The results the firm’s efforts produced are a testimony to its success: In just three years, sales satisfaction went from 26th place to 12th place, and the company has experienced 30 months of record sales.

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Jeri, check out our upcoming Forum For Customer Experience Professionals  in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

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Join Us At Customer Experience Forum West In Los Angeles, October 9 & 10, 2013!

Harley Manning

It feels as if this summer is flying by. Although it seems like yesterday when we put on Forrester’s Customer Experience Forum East in New York City, it was actually back in June. And now, our Forum For Customer Experience Professionals WEST in Los Angeles  is just eight weeks away.

Like CX Forum East, the theme of our Los Angeles event is “Boost Your Customer Experience To The Next Level.” We picked that theme to showcase examples of companies that improved the customer experience they provide, whether they were just starting out, already leading their industry, or somewhere in between. 

To kick off the event, Forrester Vice President and Principal Analyst Megan Burns will describe the four-step path to customer experience maturity that she details in her new report. The fascinating thing about this study is that when we started it, we thought we’d uncover several paths that companies have followed to get to success. But what we found instead is that there is only one path that’s proven to work, and many paths that lead to dead ends and failure.

In addition to speeches and track sessions by Forrester analysts like Megan and my co-author Kerry Bodine, our speaker lineup features senior leaders from companies that recently made major improvements to their customer experience. These executives include the president of Days Inn Worldwide, the CMO and VP of CRM at Sears, the chief customer officer at Eli Lilly, and the president and CEO of Safelite Autoglass. 

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The Discipline Of Delighting Clients At Vanguard

Harley Manning

Attendees at Forrester’s Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East in New York saw some great speakers, including Jamie Moldafsky, chief marketing officer at Wells Fargo, John Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton, and Graham Atkinson, the chief marketing officer and chief customer officer at Walgreen.

Interestingly, the speaker with the highest audience rating was Paul Heller, managing director of the retail investor group at Vanguard. Paul spoke about how the firm creates customer loyalty by providing low-cost mutual funds that deliver long-term outperformance, combined with quality service and investor advocacy. At the center of this virtuous cycle: highly engaged employees.

How does Vanguard manage to create a culture that engages employees around providing a great client experience? In this video excerpt of Paul’s speech, he shares the secret: start with “why.”

If you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Paul, check out our upcoming Forums For Customer Experience Professionals in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

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Walgreens: At The Corner Of Experience And Innovation

Harley Manning

Who doesn’t know Walgreens? It’s an iconic American brand that’s been around for over 100 years.

But at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 26, Graham Atkinson showed us a Walgreens that’s totally different from the one we’ve come to know.  Graham is the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer at Walgreens, and he’s leading the charge to transform the company from one that traditionally differentiated based on location, location, location to one that differentiates based on experience, experience, experience.

In this video excerpt from his speech, he describes three initiatives that are currently underway:

  • Delivering the well experience.
  • Transforming the community pharmacy
  • Taking the Walgreens brand to the world

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Graham, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

Getting To Wow At Wells Fargo

Harley Manning

Does a big bank care about customer experience? And if so – why?

Those are the fundamental questions answered for Wells Fargo by its CMO, Jamie Moldafsky, at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on June 25.

Going into the event, I didn’t envy Jamie’s task. The four large banks that dominate the U.S. retail banking industry don’t have stellar reputations for delivering a great customer experience. Feedback from their own customers bears this out: In Forrester’s Customer Experience Index, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase received scores ranging from 60 to 69 on a 100 point scale. In contrast, credit unions have an average score of 82, and regional banks like SunTrust Bank, PNC, and TD Bank have scores in the high 70s.

But to be fair, when you have 70 million customers spread across more than 90 businesses – as Wells Fargo does – delighting everyone might just be mission impossible.  And yet that’s exactly what Jamie and her team are trying to do on their journey to “get to wow.”

In the following video snippet of her speech, Jamie explains why customer experience is important to Wells, what she’s trying to accomplish, and the factors that make her mission both challenging and critically important.

As always, we welcome your comments! And if you're interested in seeing more great speakers like Jamie, check out our upcoming Customer Experience Forums in Los Angeles in October and London in November.

 

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Q&A With John Vanderslice, Global Head, Luxury And Lifestyle Brands, Hilton Worldwide

Harley Manning

Way back in January I spoke at the Luxury FirstLook conference put on by Luxury Daily in New York (a terrific event, by the way). Several of the other speakers intrigued me. One, in particular, gave a speech that I immediately wanted to bring to attendees at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East: John T. A. Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton Worldwide (those brands being Waldorf Astoria and Conrad).

Here’s one of many things John said that struck me: "Today's luxury buyers make investments of passion." That’s a far cry from the way customer experience (CX) practitioners usually talk about emotional engagement. But it struck me as an authentic way to describe super-affluent buyers who’ll pay to reenact the life of a Roman gladiator or to take a trek through the wilds of Nepal.

I ambushed John on his way out the door and recruited him to speak at our forum, which he did earlier this week. He was great. And he was also gracious enough to answer some questions that we posed to him, which we’re now happy to share with you.

Enjoy!

John Vanderslice

1. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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Q&A with Jamie Moldafsky, Chief Marketing Officer, Wells Fargo & Company

Harley Manning

Marketing and customer experience are two sides of the same coin: Marketers are responsible for communicating the brand promise, and customer experience professionals are responsible for making sure that the promise is kept.

It’s that synergy between marketing and CX that led us to invite Jamie Moldafsky, CMO at Wells Fargo, to speak at Forrester’s Forum for Customer Experience Professionals in New York on the morning of June 25. As a run-up to our event, Jamie took the time to answer a few questions about why Wells Fargo cares about customer experience and how its approach to CX has evolved over the years.

Enjoy!

Q: When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

Treating customers with courtesy and respect has been a core value at Wells Fargo for more than 160 years. Back in 1888, its agents were given the following instructions: “Proper respect must be shown to all — let them be men, women, or children, rich or poor, white or black—it must not be forgotten that the Company is dependent on these same people for its business.”

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Q&A With David Shapiro, VP Of Member Experience For Medicare And Retirement, UnitedHealth Group

Harley Manning

There is a staggering amount of customer experience work going on in the healthcare industry these days. From providers (the docs), to pharma companies and payers (health insurers), everyone is trying to figure out what to do and how to do it.

One guy who’s figured out a lot is David Shapiro, who wowed members of Forrester’s Customer Experience Council last year with a presentation of how UnitedHealth Group uses journey maps to transform experiences. David is the vice president of member experience for Medicare and retirement at UnitedHealth, and he's one of the speakers at Forrester's Forum For Customer Experience Professionals East on June 25th and 26th in New York.

In advance of his speech, we put some questions to David about the evolution of customer experience at his organization.

David Shapiro

Q. When did your company first begin focusing on customer experience? Why?

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